‘We can’t coop people up’: Outdoor group not happy Gov. Murphy closed all state, county parks

Gov. Phil Murphy has closed all state and county parks in New Jersey until further notice, but not everyone is happy about the decision.

News 12 Staff

Apr 8, 2020, 2:18 PM

Updated 1,471 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy has closed all state and county parks in New Jersey until further notice, but not everyone is happy about the decision.
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According to the order from the governor, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, all state and county parks have been shut down.
The closure also includes Liberty State Park in Jersey City, one of the largest state parks in the state. Hundreds of people visit the more than 1,200-acre park every day.
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The governor made the announcement during his briefing Tuesday afternoon, saying he's just been hearing of too many incidents at parks where people are not social distancing, and he says staying apart is the only way to flatten the curve.
"We have seen far too many instances where people are gathering in groups in our parks erroneously, thinking since they're outside, social distancing doesn't matter," says Gov. Murphy. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Gov. Murphy is leaving decisions about town or city parks up to the individual municipalities, but he warns against residents leaving their town and going to other towns if their local parks are closed.
One group that immediately blasted the governor's decision is the NJ Outdoor Alliance, calling the governor's decision ridiculous, and urging the state to review the impact it could have on mental health.
“Social distancing is important and we think that sportsman are uniquely situated to practice social distancing and be a leader on the issue,” says Cody McLaughlin, with NJ Outdoor Alliance. “That said, we can’t coop people up for 12 weeks in their house without absolutely no outlet to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.”
McLaughlin says the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance and its members could not sit idly by after the governor's decision to close state and county parks as part of his continuing efforts to flatten the deadly coronavirus curve, calling the decision ridiculous after Murphy suggested New Jerseyans walk around the neighborhood instead.

"I don't see how forcing people to walk in that sub developments is more conducive to social distancing than enjoying open space and 100,000 acres state park forest or county park,” says McLaughlin.
McLaughlin says support for the alliance stance was instant.

"As soon as we sent out our release, we actually saw a number of people join us in the chorus to reopen the state parks,” says McLaughlin.
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McLaughlin says the states 800,000 hunters, fisherman and trappers as well as the hikers, bikers and kayakers would agree that being outdoors is critical to mental health. He believes more social distancing signage and aggressive enforcement at parks is a better answer than parks being closed all together.
He says they have not heard back from the governor just yet.


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